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Ports & Ships Maritime News

11 April 2012
Author: Terry Hutson


57,105 readers and over one million hits were recorded on PORTS & SHIPS during January 2012 and 55,000 readers in February, the shortest month – thank you readers.

Yet another excellent reason to consider advertising your company or services on these pages. info@ports.co.za for details

Improve your branding with your banner on this site and tap into our large readership - contact info@ports.co.za



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The bulker AKIBA (57,257-dwt, built 2011) which was towed into Durban harbour for inspection and repairs in the dry dock, after the ship had grounded in Maputo Bay. Pictures by Trevor Jones

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Port statistics for the eight commercial ports under the administration of Transnet National Ports Authority are now available for the month of March 2012. During the month the combined ports achieved a total throughput of 22.030 million tonnes.

To compare the 2012 March figures year on year with those of 2011, please go to the following link HERE for the previous March figures. Use your BACK button to return to this page.

As is standard with figures reported in PORTS & SHIPS, these reflect an adjustment on the overall tonnage to those provided by Transnet. This is to include containers by weight – an adjustment necessary because Transnet NPA measures containers by number of TEUs and does not show the weight.

To arrive at such a calculation, PORTS & SHIPS uses an average of 13,5 tonnes per TEU, which may involve some under-reporting but until such time as the IMO enforces the weighing of containers at all ports we will have to live with these estimates. Nevertheless, we continue to make this distinction, without which South African ports continue to be under-reported internationally.

Figures for the respective ports during March 2012 are:


Cargo handled by tonnes during March 2012

PORT MARCH 2012 million tonnes
Richards Bay 6.931
Durban 5.981
Saldanha Bay 6.272
Cape Town 1.221
Port Elizabeth 0.871
Ngqura 0.414
Mossel Bay 0.111
East London 0.230
Total all ports 22.030 million tonnes

CONTAINERS (measured by TEUs) during March 2012
(TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA

PORT March 2012 TEUs
Durban 180,004
Cape Town 61,405
Port Elizabeth 13,310
Ngqura 30,670
East London 3,976
Richards Bay 890
Total all ports 290,255 TEUs

SHIP CALLS for March 2012

PORT March 2012 vessels gross tons
Durban 299 9,155,469
Cape Town 189 3,846,735
Richards Bay 137 5,033,219
Port Elizabeth 85 1,902,035
Saldanha Bay 54 3,140.098
Ngqura 28 1,538,991
East London 21 538,475
Mossel Bay 36 190,226
Total ship calls 846 25,345,248

- source TNPA, but with adjustments made by Ports & Ships to include container tonnages



  Month's exports YTD exports Annualised estimate Ships Trains
January 2012 4,463,987 4,463,987 52,56mt 44 813
February 2012 6,087,111 10,551,098 64.19mt 63 678
March UPDATED 6.24 mt 16.791 mt 73.47 mt not yet available not yet available

source: RBCT


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Statistics for the fiscal year 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012 which are now available courtesy TNPA indicate a very modest 3.8% increase in volumes by tonnes handled over the previous year.

Total cargo handled at the combined ports amounted to 263.442 million tonnes, up by just 9.647 million tonnes on the previous financial year which ended 31 March 2011. These total tonnages include the calculation made for container weights, based on an average of 13.5 tonnes per TEU.

Container volumes increased to 4.353 million TEUs, an increase of 6.42% on 2010’s 4.090m TEU. Details are set out below.

Figures for the respective ports during financial year 2011 are:


 PORT 2011 mt 
 Richards Bay 89.232 
 Durban 78.101 
Saldanha Bay  58.263 
Cape Town  14.522 
Port Elizabeth  11.755 
Ngqura  6.979 
Mossel Bay  1.923 
East London  2.667 
 Total all ports 263.447million tonnes 


CONTAINERS (measured by TEUs) during 2011
(TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA

PORT  2011 TEUs 
Durban  2,698,173 
Cape Town  790,313 
Port Elizabeth  300,344 
Ngqura  513,530 
East London  53,819 
Richards Bay  17,078 
Total all ports 4,353,568 TEUs 

SHIP CALLS for 2011

 PORT 2011 vessels  gross tons 
Durban  4157  127,702,379 
Cape Town  2775  51,000,519 
Richards Bay  1782  65,994,515nbsp;
Port Elizabeth  1176  27,005,954 
Saldanha Bay  528  34,503,749 
Ngqura  383  18,718,552 
East London  306  7,024,979 
Mossel Bay  1036  3,048,236 
Total ship calls  12,142  334,998,883 

- source TNPA, but with adjustments made by Ports & Ships to include container tonnages


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FS FLOREAL, a French Navy patrol frigate which is in Cape Town this week during IONS 2012. Picture by Terry Hutson

The Chief of the South African Navy, Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu, is playing host this week to the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS 2012) at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. On Wednesday 11 April the South African Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu performed the opening ceremony for the symposium which runs until Friday.

The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium is a voluntary initiative that seeks to increase maritime co-operation amongst navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region by providing an open and inclusive forum for discussion of regionally relevant maritime issues. This is the first time this symposium has been held in the continent of Africa.

One of the key aims of IONS 2012 is to establish a common understanding of maritime security issues – not just piracy which has also been a problem in the past in the Straits of Malacca – but also illegal fishing. In 2005, the Food & Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO) admitted that 75 percent of fishery resources- particularly tuna - in the south-western Indian Ocean had been fished to their limits, while the remaining 25 percent had been harvested beyond ecological sustainment. Other issues include human trafficking, pollution and the importance of developing responses in the event of humanitarian emergencies.

This was highlighted in the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake off Indonesia which triggered a series of devastating tsunamis along the coasts of most landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean, killing over 230,000 people in fourteen countries, and inundating coastal communities with waves up to 30 metres. A series of large earthquakes also off the Indonesian islands on the day the IONS 2012 conference started (Wednesday 11 April) served to emphasis the importance of this topic.

It is hoped that a number of multi-national maritime co-operative agreements and strategies will result from this symposium. Maritime security is a key for the Indian Ocean region as at least 40 percent of the sea-borne trade, 50 percent of its container traffic and 70 percent of the traffic in hydro-carbon products transit through the Indian Ocean on board the 60,000 ships that transit through it each year.

Over 500 international naval delegates from 32 countries from the Indian Ocean or with interests in Indian Ocean are attending the three days symposium. This includes member countries from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), from Asian countries and representatives of international organisations such as the African Union and United Nations.

The theme for the symposium is regional maritime security initiatives aimed at reducing modern maritime security threats. This is particularly relevant as acts of maritime security threats such as piracy have become common place around the Horn of Africa in the north-western Indian Ocean and in the West Africa’s Bight of Africa.


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Deflated returns on export fruit sales, escalating production costs, exorbitant logistics costs and inefficiency and ineffectiveness at port level are converging to threaten the future of South Africa’s fruit growing industry.

This is the stark warning from Justin Chadwick, Chairman of Fruit South Africa (FSA), issued in the run-up to the inaugural Cool Logistics Africa conference in Cape Town later this month.

In an open conference letter, FSA calls on the perishable logistics and transport sectors to rise to the current challenges in a “united and positive manner” alongside South Africa’s fruit growers and exporters, in order to “preserve this industry’s 100 year old heritage and safeguard it for the next generation.”

“The fruit export supply chain needs to work, and work efficiently and effectively, if this industry is to weather these hard times,” says Chadwick. “Everybody in the supply chain stands to lose if we don’t all focus on this issue collectively. If we don’t, then our principals – the growers – will be the first to lose and the 400,000 farm workers who support them will suffer the most. But it will eventually affect us all at some point in time if we don’t rise to the challenge.”

Continues Chadwick: “We understand the competitive nature of those in the export chain, but everyone shares the frustration about the current inefficiencies. We shouldn't shrug our shoulders and accept the fact that the losses from inefficiency will just get passed on over the farm gate. We are all indebted to this industry to ensure our growers remain sustainable and the farm workers and their families all prosper.”

FSA and its affiliated members Fresh Producer Exports Forum (FPEF), the Citrus Growers Association of South Africa (CGA), Hortgro Services (Hortgro), the Subtropical Growers Association (Subtrops) and the South African Table Grape Industry (SATGI) will use the upcoming conference to share their concerns and seek solutions with local and international transport and logistics providers, says Chadwick.

“Taking place at a pinnacle phase for the Southern African fresh fruit export industry, with real supply chain challenges in our midst, this conference is an ideal platform to discuss and debate the issues at hand.”

Cool Logistics Africa 2012 runs from 24-26 April at the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town. The event includes pre-conference site visit to two of South Africa’s leading pack houses, a 2-day conference including a networking reception hosted by Fruit South Africa, and an optional 1-day post-conference operations and technology workshop.

For further information about the conference, contact holly@coollogisticsconference.com


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MSC Opera, re-routed to Durban from Abu Dhabi

MSC Cruises, which became the first cruise company to use Abu Dhabi as a home port, is pulling out less than a year after it started sailing from the capital as the industry struggles in the wake of the Costa Concordia disaster, reports The National.

The report says that Italy's MSC Cruises has scrapped plans to return to the emirate this year for the next season in a setback for the emirate's ambitions to become a cruise industry hub.

A variety of factors were behind its decision to withdraw, including commercial reasons, the limited facilities and range of cruise destinations in the region, and a preference to take the ship that was destined for Abu Dhabi to South Africa instead, the company said.

“There is no doubt that MSC Cruises' guests enjoyed the destination,” said the cruise company. “However, for the long-term success of cruising in the region, new ports of call need to be developed, terminal facilities must be upgraded and there must be increased focus on sourcing from local and regional markets.” Abu Dhabi has identified the cruise sector as an important pillar in its tourism ambitions as it aims to attract 2.3 million hotel guests by the end of this year.

In the longer term, it is hoping to attract 300 sailings a year and 600,000 passengers by 2030, including ships that sail out of Abu Dhabi and those that stop off in the capital as a port of call.

The first cruise ship to use Abu Dhabi as its base, the MSC Lirica, was estimated to have brought in about 40,000 visitors, with a direct economic impact of Dh80 million (US$21.7m) to the emirate, including money spent on flights, accommodation, retail, transport, food and beverage, according to projections from the emirate's tourism authority issued at the time of its launch.

The cruises sailed to Muscat, Fujairah, Khasab in Oman, and Dubai.

MSC Cruises had intended to bring a bigger ship to Abu Dhabi next season, carrying 54,000 passengers.

But that ship, MSC Opera, is now going to Durban in South Africa, where the company says it has made substantial investments.

The full report in The National can be read HERE - use your BACK BUTTON to return to this page.


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Africa, a big continent with an equally big future. Map courtesy Create & Share

Africans are buying Chinese high tech electronic consumer devices as well as sophisticated production machinery in large volumes without causing any disruption in the domestic producers market, reports London’s Financial Times.

Low prices help drive the import growth, says the report, but product improvement, better local co-operation and high levels of Chinese African investment, totalling US$13 billion in Africa since 2000, are factors too.

The classic complaint of third world products, that cheap imports obliterate domestic markets, is no longer the case for China, whose products though cheap, come from higher up the value chain and beyond local production capacity, the FT said.

“The African market is Chinese. They help us because it is the only one we can afford,” a shop assistant told the FT.

Chinese exports have more than tripled their market share in Africa since 2002, which supplied 16.8 percent of the continent's total imports last year, according to a Standard Bank report.

Over the last four years, Chinese companies recorded their biggest gains in selling machinery, vehicles and electronics at the expense of European and Japanese rivals. African imports from Spain, Germany, Britain and Japan were all lower last year than in 2008 while imports from China surged 38 percent in 2011 year on year.

Zhenjiang Shenglong Machinery Manufacturing (ZSMM), a middle-size farm machinery manufacturer in Jiangsu province, started its business in Africa by contributing to aid missions.

Said ZSMM chairman Lou Min: “We were doing well in the Chinese market, but we realised that our products would die out domestically. We had to break into other underdeveloped countries,” said Mr Luo, adding that this company made $3 million in Africa last year. – shippingonline.cn


Africa the new growth hub, says Zuma

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Africans need to stop being pessimistic about their continent, and to be the leading spokespersons and ambassadors – Pres Jacob Zuma

In a related matter, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has likened Africa’s growth pace to that of Asia, saying the continent is fast making good progress economically and is on its way to achieving economic growth and improving the quality of life of Africans.

“As you can appreciate, we are standing in an incredibly privileged position today, where we can witness Africa’s epic comeback,” Zuma said at the opening of the 4th International Trade and Investment Conference hosted at Sun City by the Department of Trade and Industry in the North West on Wednesday (11 April).

“We are all aware of Africa’s history. Many of us have even been closely intertwined with Africa’s struggles, pain and suffering. But today we can stand here and proudly watch Africa finally rising,” he said.

Zuma said there was no doubt that these were only the first rays of light and that “glorious Africa” was yet to reveal itself.

South Africa is set to participate in a panel discussion during the conference, where it will be represented by Economic Development Minister Ibrahim Patel, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and Pravin Gordhan, the Minister of Finance.

The conference comes just days before government convenes an infrastructure summit that is expected to map the way forward for the country’s infrastructure plan. Government hopes to create thousands of jobs driven by a mega infrastructure renewal and building programme over the next few years.

Patel told BuaNews earlier that the South African government intends to use the debates to further promote South Africa and the continent as the new growing investment destination for the world.

“Our key message here will be that South Africa is open for doing business. Our infrastructure programme is a platform to attract both foreign and domestic investment into infrastructure itself but also into supporting economic activities in the mining sector, green economy, manufacturing and very important for us - in agro-processing,” Patel said.

Government’s focus in the next decade will be on job creation and foreign investment is expected to play a crucial role in achieving the target of five million new jobs by 2020, he said.

Patel added that Africa’s mineral wealth, coupled with its substantial agricultural land and youthful people, made it the place in which to invest.

“This is a place to invest in and this is a place that everybody will see aggressive economic activity in the next decade or so. Our time has arrived, we are taking charge of our destiny so the pessimists must watch this space.”

In his address to the conference delegates, Zuma also denounced the Afro- pessimism that the continent has endured over many years.

“Despite all the good news, companies have been slow to enter Africa. Some executives are still missing the signals. Others question whether Africa’s surge is just the result of a once-off lift by the global commodities boom, or whether it is really a sustained economic take-off. Will Africa continue to rise, they wonder, as The Economist asked last year,” he said.

But what Africa needs, said Zuma, is to have her own people to believe this, and to spread this powerful positive message using all the tools and information at their disposal. Africans need to stop being pessimistic about their continent, and to be the leading spokespersons and ambassadors.

“If we do not believe what we see and experience, the rise of our beloved motherland, why should the rest of the world? I challenge all Africans today to accept the fact that their continent is changing. They must release themselves from the shackles of self-doubt and celebrate these new developments,” said Zuma. – written by Chris Bathembu, BuaNews


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Transnet NPA was let off lightly when the port regulator reduced its tariff increase from 18.6 percent to less than 3 percent! In India the port regulator there dealt a heavy blow to private container terminals in the country, reports Cargonews Asia. Instead of reducing the tariff increase applied for on terminal charges, the Tariff Authority for Major Ports instead ordered them to slash rates, citing additional revenues.

The terminal operators affected by the ruling are Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal (NSICT), operated by DP World, Gateway Terminals India (GTI), majority owned by APM Terminals – both at Jawaharlal Nehru Port – and Chennai International Terminal, owned by Singapore’s PSA International.

GTI got the biggest shock when it was asked to cut rates by 44 percent in response to a plea for a rate increase of about eight percent. So did DP World when it asked for a 30 percent tariff rise – NSICT was asked to slash rates by 27.85 percent. The blow was softer for PSA with Chennai Port asked to cut rates by 12.23 percent.

All the ports are now looking at a legal recourse. source Cargonews Asia

Sale of Durban International Airport (DIA) concluded

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DIA as it is now in 2011. The existing Durban Harbour can be seen in the area of the top left corner

The sale agreement between the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) and Transnet for the land previously operated as Durban International Airport, has been concluded and all that remains now are the formalities.

There has been no indication as to how much the land has cost Transnet, which intends building a new dig-out port on the site which lies about 16km south of Durban harbour.

According to Transnet Capital Projects, the intention is to build a new port in several stages, with eventually 16 container berths that would in theory enable several terminal operators to establish themselves at the new port.

There would also be a number of berths catering for a car terminal on the southern end of the proposed port, and an oil terminal with several berths for tankers adjacent to the Sapref refinery.

No date has been set for construction of the new port to begin.

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What the completed new port might look like when complete. Images courtesy Transnet



Johannesburg - Grindrod Limited has appointed Standard Chartered Bank as the Sole Financial Advisor on the expansion project of the Maputo Coal Terminal (TCM) in Mozambique, estimated at US$800 million.

The expansion project will increase the capacity of the port’s coal terminal from an existing output level of 6 million tonnes per annum to 20 million over a period of 6 years.

In a statement Grindrod said that Standard Chartered’s advisory capacity and structuring expertise will enable Grindrod to seek debt funding from the open market. Debt funding is likely to comprise of a mixture of development finance institutions and commercial banks - with possible support from Export Credit Agencies and Political Risk Insurance providers.

“Given our presence across 16 African markets and a proven project and advisory track record, we have the specialist expertise and capability to ensure the Port’s expansion is adequately financed through to completion,” said Ebenezer Essoka, Standard Chartered’s Chief Executive Officer and Area General Manager of Southern Africa.

Standard Chartered’s project finance capabilities include specialist focus in ports, infrastructure, mining, oil and gas. Key project finance advisory transactions in Africa include: Financial Advisor to the sponsors of the Gabon Fertilizer project (USD1.5 billion), Sole Debt and Equity Advisor to the Lekki Port Project in Nigeria (USD1.4 billion) and Financial Advisor to Kenya Petroleum Refinery (USD1 billion).

Additional transactions where the Bank has played a strategic advisory role, include: Sole Financial Advisor to the Oppenheimer Family for the sale of their 40% stake in De Beers to Anglo American (ZAR40.1 billion); Sole Financial Advisor to Optimum Coal in relation to the potential takeover by Glencore (estimated at ZAR9.6 billion); and Sole Financial Advisor to China Investment Corporation (CIC) for their 25.8% stake in Shanduka Group (ZAR2 billion).

“We are pleased to have Standard Chartered as our sole financial advisor on this project, given their level of project finance and advisory expertise already demonstrated across the continent. We are confident they will ensure the sustainable success of this significant project,” said Grindrod Freight Services CEO of Ports & Terminals, Dave Rennie.

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Maputo coal terminal scene

Police say Nacala weapons storage was illegal

The General Commander of the Mozambican police, Jorge Khalau, has insisted that the storage of weaponry in the district police command in the northern port of Nacala was entirely illegal – but one of the companies involved, Mocargo, has claimed that it was a well-known and long established practice.

Last week, the national police spokesperson Pedro Cossa announced that the Nacala commander, Adriano Muranga, had stored in his office 62 automatic weapons (such as AK-47, FN and G-3 rifles), 8,465 bullets, and two pairs of binoculars, belonging to the owners of ships moored in the port of Nacala.

Cossa said that the authorities knew nothing about the circulation in the country of guns and ammunition belonging to shipping operators, much less that police installations were being used to store such equipment.

Muranga had allegedly gone freelance. He and four of his subordinates, Cossa said, had taken money from a Zimbabwean company, GDI Consultants, for storing the weapons.

In addition to the five police officers, two Zimbabwean citizens from GDI Consultants and a representative of the Mozambican freight company Mocargo were also arrested.

Interviewed in last Monday’s issue of the independent daily O Pais, Khalau insisted that Muranga’s activities were not known to his superiors at provincial or national level. “We ordered the arrest of the Nacala commander”, he said, “because he was violating norms, receiving weapons illegally and without authorisation.”

To bring such weapons into the country, said Khalau, authorisation was required from the Defence and Interior Ministries.

He added that the police are looking into a network of private security companies supposedly involved in the illegal import of guns.

“Some companies, taking advantage of a certain negligence, sent guns directly to Nacala in order to earn money”, added Khalau. “This is illegal. We shall take all those involved to court and searches will continue in Nacala and elsewhere in the country”.

But Mocargo, which is a long established freight company, vehemently denied that its activities were in any way illegal. In a press release, it pointed out that several freight companies, including Mocargo, had provided services of “receiving, transferring and moving weapons which, on board ships, guarantee their security, when they are near the Somali coast.”

These activities predated the current threat from Somali pirate gangs – over the years freight agents had received requests to move weapons, and such requests were accepted, but only with police authorisation.

Mocargo says that freight agents always notified the port and police authorities about any movement of weapons. The transfer of weapons “from the airport to the ship, or vice versa in the case of disembarkation, invariably takes case with the direct involvement of the police,” said the release – and also with the knowledge of customs, port security, and the immigration authorities.

If weapons needed to be stored while they were being transferred to a ship, this was always done on police premises, with a full list of the guns and ammunition concerned, Mocargo added.

Mocargo flatly denied paying any individual police officer for these services. Cheques were made out to the police force, and “the issuing of cheques in favour of individuals is expressly prohibited.” This, the company says, can be proved from the receipts issued by the police.

Mocargo adds that it has contacted the Minister of the Interior, Alberto Mondlane, from whom it hoped “to receive instructions about the procedures to be observed in providing these services.”

At no point in this statement does Mocargo clarify whether it was responsible for the guns found in Muranga’s office, or whether they were the responsibility of some other company. source AIM

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Nacala Bay



According to Transnet SOC Ltd, it expects to create up to 588,000 new job opportunities across the economy through its Market Demand Strategy (MDS), which will see the company spend R300 billion on capital projects over a seven-year period.

The MDS is aimed at expanding South Africa’s rail, port and pipeline infrastructure, resulting in a significant increase in freight volumes, especially in commodities such as iron ore, coal and manganese. Transnet believes this will also lead to a significant modal shift from road to rail.

The main objective of the strategy is for Transnet to invest in building capacity to meet validated market demand that will enable economic growth.

The MDS is the centrepiece of government’s growth strategy through investment in infrastructure and a key component of enabling the aspirations of the New Growth Path (NGP).

The MDS has the potential of catapulting Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), which has the lion’s share of the investment programme, into the world’s fifth biggest rail freight company. Transnet says that rail volumes will increase from approximately 200 million tons to 350 million tons during the period.

The company claims that by 2019 TFR will have increased its market share of container traffic to 92% from 79% currently, although it’s not clear how Transnet arrives at these figures. It’s unlikely that TFR’s share of the container business tops 25 percent at this stage, although claims have been made of it reaching towards the 30 percent mark. Nevertheless it says that the increase will have a major impact on reducing the cost of doing business and claims that studies conducted by Transnet show that rail in South Africa is on average 75% cheaper than road transport. Once again it’s unsure how this figure was arrived at. If bulk freight such as iron or and coal was factored in then we might agree, but that would be an unrealistic comparison.

Transnet says quite rightly that the large scale shift from road to rail will address costs, congestion and reduce carbon emissions. On the latter item Transnet will presumably not be factoring in the carbon emissions emitted by the coal-fired power stations that provides TFR with most of its energy requirements.

Of the R300 billion investment, R205-bn will be allocated to rail projects of which R151-bn will go to general freight to support the growth in volumes to 170 million tons per annum (mtpa).

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The first in a series of new class 43 diesel-electric locomotives being acquired by Transnet Freight Rail as part of a major infrastructure upgrade. Picture Wiki Commons

Transnet says that export coal will increase from 68mtpa to 97.5mtpa and iron ore from 53mtpa to 82,5mtpa.

Container volumes handled through the ports will increase from 4.3 million TEU to 7.6m TEU in the period.

Good news is that Transnet expects significant productivity and efficiency improvements in rail and port operations. It says that with 50% of the R78-bn set aside for locomotives to be spent on local suppliers this will encourage growth in the local industry. It expects its employee headcount to peak at 74,000 in 2018/19 and the total number of jobs created via MDS to peak at 588,00 in that year. This will include direct, indirect and economy-wide jobs.

Skills development expenditure will top R7.7-bn spent on training by 2018/19 including R4.7-bn on bursaries and grants.

“As a result of various management interventions, including the Turnaround and Quantum Leap strategies over the last few years, Transnet has built a strong position and will continue to play a pivotal role in supporting government’s drive for an infrastructure investment-led economic growth. Through the MDS, Transnet will satisfy validated demand by accelerating investment in freight logistics capacity and will support reliable, efficient and cost effective movement of bulk and manufactured goods,” the company said in a statement.

The successful implementation of the MDS will see Transnet’s revenue almost triple from R46 billion to R128 billion over the next seven years, driven by strong volume growth.



Dredgers open Mombasa to bigger ships

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MSC Jade seen sailing from Durban. She recently became the first ship of over 3000-TEU capacity to enter the port of Mombasa. Picture by Trevor Steenekamp www.nauticalimages.co.za

Recent dredging of the Mombasa port channels has made it possible for much larger ships, including container vessels, to enter the port and make use of the respective terminals.

With the completion of dredging of the Mombasa channel and the turning basin it is now possible for container ships up to 4500-TEU to call. Until now the port was restricted to vessels of up to 200m in length and in the 2,000 or 2,500-TEU range.

The first of the larger container ships to enter the port was the 3,000-TEU MSC JADE, which discharged and loaded a total of 1,693-TEUs. Following this vessel was the slightly larger MSC ROBERTA.

Mombasa’s Kilindini channel has been dredged to a depth of -15 metres in the inner channel and has a width of 300m at its narrowest point. The turning basin has also been dredged to -15m and has been widened to 500 metres. Dredging was performed by the Dutch company Van Oord Dredging and Marine and is due to be completed later this month, four months ahead of schedule.


Great Lakes: New ferries for Ssese Islands

The first of two new ferries to enter service on Lake Victoria with a service between Bukakata and Luuku Island is due to enter service on 1 May, reports the East African Business Week.

The ferry, which has been named the MV PEARL is designed to carry vehicles (including trucks) as well as passengers and is being completed at Kalangala Infrastructure Services. A second ferry under construction at the Songoro Shipyard at Mwanza will only be available for launching at a later date.

Each vessel is designed to carry 20 motor vehicles and 200 passengers.

East African Business Week reports that another company, Earth Wise is in the final stages of preparation to introduce a catamaran passengers service between Port Bell and Kalangala.


Mombasa Port Statistics

The total volume of cargo handled at the Kenyan port of Mombasa reached 19.950 million tonnes in 2011, up 5.4 percent on the 18.93mt achieved in 2010.

Of this total imports accounted for 16.94million tonnes, an increase on the 16.20mt handled in 2010.

Container volumes reached 771,000 TEUS during the year, an increase of 10.8% on 2010.

Transit cargo, i.e. for countries other than Kenya amounted to 5.38 million tonnes, up by just under 4 percent year on year. Cargo destined for South Sudan totalled 417,033 tonnes, an increase of 86.61 percent.

Uganda remains Kenya’s most important transit market for cargo handled at Mombasa with 4.37 million tonnes being processed through the Kenyan port.



Angola is investing US$1.2-billion on increasing cargo handling capacity at the port of Lobito, which will increase its annual capacity to 11 million tonnes.

According to the port company Empresa Portuaria Do Lobito, a dry dock has been completed for the repair of ships.

In 2011 the port of Lobito, Angola’s second port after Luanda in the north, handled a total of 88,000 TEUs and a total of 2.7 million tonnes of cargo.

Company chairman Anapaz de Jesus Neto said the funds already spent have been invested in refurbishing the port’s bulk and breakbulk terminals. In addition the quays are being extended to handle up to 12 ships, up from the current eight vessel capacity.

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The Singapore-owned and flagged offshore supply tug CREST OLYMPUS (3487-gt, built 2011) which was in Cape Town recently. Picture by Aad Noorland



An Iranian naval ship went to the rescue of a Chinese cargo ship after the vessel was boarded and seized by Somali pirates this week.

The Chinese general cargo ship, XIANG HUA MEN (15,709-gt, built 1987) with a crew of 28 was en route from Shanghai and Singapore to the port of Imam Khomeini in Iran when on 6 April the ship was captured by up to nine pirates armed with guns and other weapons.

At the time the ship was in position at 25.28N 057.32E in the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz.

After capturing the vessel the master was told to head for Somalia. Meanwhile an Iranian warship arrived and began shadowing the Chinese ship while calling on the pirates to surrender. The pirates, who claimed they were 22 in number and not nine responded by pointing guns at the crew and ordering the warship to move away.

The Iranian ship ignored the warning and continued with the pursuit and calling on the pirates to surrender. Meanwhile a second Chinese ship intercepted the radio messages and was able to confirm via the crew of the Xiang Hua Men that were only nine pirates on board.

Shortly after this the Iranian ship opened fire in the direction of the captured ship, while some of the ship’s crew managed to shut down the vessel’s engines. At this the pirates threw away their weapons and surrendered. All have been taken into custody. There were no reported injuries among the crew of the Xiang Hua Men.


French frigate defeats pirate group

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French sailors intercept suspected pirates. Picture EUNAVFOR

On the morning of 7 April, the French Navy frigate ACONIT was heading towards a position in the north of the Horn of Africa to join with the Spanish frigate INFANTA ELENA to take over the escort of a World Food Programme (WFP) ship, reports EUNAVFOR.

En route FS Aconit spotted a whaler towing a skiff. With the distance to the nearest shore being nearly 600 km and with no fishing activity in evidence, the suspicions of those on board the FS Aconit were raised, leading to the commanding officer giving the order to intercept the whaler.

Once the boarding team had been deployed, it required only a few minutes to intercept the whaler, which held eight suspected pirates as well as various piracy- related equipment. Other equipment may have been thrown overboard before the interception.

Under the supervision of new Force Commander Rear Admiral Jean-Baptiste Dupuis and his staff on board FS MARNE, the suspected pirates were transferred on board FS Aconit. The whaler and the piracy-related equipments were destroyed and the skiff was taken on board the French frigate. After one day of transit to get closer to the Somalian coast, on 8 April the eight suspected pirates were released.


No Quick Fix

With the piracy situation off Somalia considered by some to be stabilising, over on the other coast, the threat of piracy off West Africa is growing rapidly.

It is no surprise that the talk is of how to transfer the lessons being learned in the Eastern HRA and apply them over in the West.

Nigerian maritime criminals are making big money, and they are making it fast. It is quoted that they can earn as much as $6m a week from theft and illegal bunkering. By comparison their Somali counterparts would take hundreds of days to finally negotiate for such ransoms.

There has been a waking up to the threat, and while it is not yet quite to the Somali scale it is a real concern. Where so many initiatives, BMPs and military hard ware have been thrown at the Indian Ocean, over in the Atlantic, Gulf of Guinea and the Benin Bight it is a different story.

For some the temptation is to look at the successes elsewhere and try to apply them in a new theatre of conflict. The most obvious deterrent off Somalia has been the use of armed guards. However it is understood that no West African countries currently allow private security firms to carry weapons, and so that avenue is currently closed.

The stance of other governments to the deployment of armed guards off West Africa remains unclear. It is felt that a lot of work has gone into decriminalising the practice in the Gulf of Aden, but it may be a stretch to get approvals to extend to the Gulf of Guinea.

So as the western model of smash and grab piracy abounds, what of the vessel hardening techniques which have been proving so important east of Suez? According to private maritime security company Drum Cussac little or no effort has been put into hardening or protecting vessels working in the region.

With the pirates, the threat and the possible responses all being so different from one coast to the other the problems are only set to intensify. It seems that the easy pickings and potential riches are attracting more violent criminals into the fray, and this time around there may be no pragmatic answers. source Shiptalk



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The P&O cruise ship ARCADIA (83,781-gt, built 2005) which called last week at Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. The handsome looking ship was not originally due to call in Durban but due to the risk of piracy a scheduled call at a Seychelles port was called off. Trevor Jones described this as “a nice pirate bounty for Durban.” Pictures by Trevor Jones

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